2 of 2
2
Culture, Shmulture
Posted: 07 August 2011 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2588
Joined  2011-04-24
GdB - 07 August 2011 10:56 PM
mid atlantic - 07 August 2011 04:21 PM

I didn’t claim that culture doesn’t exist, I claimed that it arises from nature, and that nature is all there is.

No?

mid atlantic - 06 August 2011 07:58 AM

Nothing exists but the physical universe

Don’t you see that in complex material structures, new ‘laws of nature arise’? With some exaggeration, one could even say that entropy, heat and pressure arise from nature: in the end, they all can be analysed as moving particles. The nature/nurture debate has nothing to do with the fact that we and our culture in the end are implemented in a physical universe. Again, take the parallel with a computer and software: would you like to take sides in a nature/nurture (hardware/software) debate for the functioning of a computer? That makes no sense either, does it? Software has some intrinsic properties, that cannot be analysed in physical terms, even if it is true that a computer program must be realised in matter somehow (a computer, a brain, by ink spots on paper).

In the real nature/nurture debate, it is about finding out how much of our behaviour is ‘hardware’, and how much is ‘software’. That is an empirical question to be investigated, not something to be stated based on a physicalist worldview. That you speak English, and not Swahili depends on the environment you grew up in, not by your genes, i.e. it depends on culture.

I agree with you that so called “new laws of nature can arise”, but they are still “laws of nature”; they are not too mysterious to functionally understand, in my view. It’s correct that my culture causes me to speak English rather than Swahilli, but that doesn’t mean that culture is somehow beyond nature.

 Signature 

Raise your glass if you’re wrong…. in all the right ways.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 August 2011 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2588
Joined  2011-04-24
GdB - 07 August 2011 11:03 PM
George - 07 August 2011 03:12 PM

I see culture as an extended phenotype. It is to us what a beaver damn is to a beaver. Islam or Christianity are obviously more complicated than a beaver damn, but that’s simply because we are more complicated than beavers.

Culture can obviously have a huge influence on us, but only if we have the necessary genes to register and respond to to whatever is being thrown at us. Which is basically why a dog will never learn how to read or why I will never understand Joyce’s Ulysses or quantum mechanics and why there will always be good and bad students no matter how many Head Start Programs we’ll try to waste our money on.

It is not false what you say, but with the same right I could say that I see genes as extended molecules. Pity enough, that does not help to understand evolution. I am missing the essence of what evolution is when I do not see the wider and abstracter context of DNA molecules. In the same way seeing culture as an extended phenotype misses the point of what culture is. Again (see my posting above) it is a denying of the arising of new intrinsic properties in complex structures, even if these properties need a substrate of lower level structures to exist.

The point of what culture is, is subjective.

 Signature 

Raise your glass if you’re wrong…. in all the right ways.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 03:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4379
Joined  2007-08-31
mid atlantic - 07 August 2011 11:53 PM

I agree with you that so called “new laws of nature can arise”, but they are still “laws of nature”; they are not too mysterious to functionally understand, in my view. It’s correct that my culture causes me to speak English rather than Swahilli, but that doesn’t mean that culture is somehow beyond nature.

You may say that culture is not beyond nature if you want. Then it is just possible to investigate the ‘natural laws’ of culture. I already formulated more or less one: children tend to learn the language that their environment speaks. For the rest it is just very difficult to make cultural predictions. But that is also with predicting volcano eruptions, weather phenomena, earth quakes, etc. But that is not a reason to call these ‘mystical’ or ‘untouchable’

So what follows from your remark that we live in a material world? That we can drop all investigation of our culture? That we can drop all investigation of how culture contributes to what we are? Do you think that we can understand human behaviour only on basis of their bodies?

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9284
Joined  2006-08-29
GdB - 07 August 2011 11:03 PM

It is not false what you say, but with the same right I could say that I see genes as extended molecules. Pity enough, that does not help to understand evolution. I am missing the essence of what evolution is when I do not see the wider and abstracter context of DNA molecules. In the same way seeing culture as an extended phenotype misses the point of what culture is. Again (see my posting above) it is a denying of the arising of new intrinsic properties in complex structures, even if these properties need a substrate of lower level structures to exist.

Of course it is a complex structure, but that again is because we are complex. I guess in theory one could study culture through chemistry, but it would be certainly impossible in practice. Looking at culture through biology is much less difficult. Just give it a few more years, GdB, and I am sure we’ll know so much more that it won’t escape even your attention. Pinker, for example, is coming out with a new book on the decline of violence next month, where I am sure you can learn a big deal about the selection towards more peaceful individuals, and hence more benevolent culture.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4379
Joined  2007-08-31
George - 08 August 2011 05:37 AM

Of course it is a complex structure, but that again is because we are complex. I guess in theory one could study culture through chemistry, but it would be certainly impossible in practice. Looking at culture through biology is much less difficult. Just give it a few more years, GdB, and I am sure we’ll know so much more that it won’t escape even your attention. Pinker, for example, is coming out with a new book on the decline of violence next month, where I am sure you can learn a big deal about the selection towards more peaceful individuals, and hence more benevolent culture.

If you want to explain a phenomenon, the first thing always is to observe the phenomenon. On the level of molecules the question what species are cannot even arise because there is nothing in the molecule that shows it is part of a bigger and complexer system. Same with culture and animals. I would say that even if you know how violence can be affected on lower level, one does still does not understand what violence is. Say for example you get in rage because you see you child being beaten by somebody else. Would you say that we understand your rage when we know that some beta-natron-caro-glutamat concentration in you frontal lobe has increased?

Can you understand from the following basic program that it is an endless loop:

10 print 'Hallo world'
20 goto 10 

Do you really need to understand the physics of a computer to see this? Can you say you understand the concept of this endless loop by only studying the physics of the computer?

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9284
Joined  2006-08-29
GdB - 08 August 2011 07:07 AM

Do you really need to understand the physics of a computer to see this?

Not if all I want to do is to use a computer. A beaver doesn’t need to understand biology or physics to build a damn and today’s Christian can come up with whatever explanation he wants for his disapproval of the Old Testament’s monstrosities. Or he needs no explanation at all. Equally, you are free to keep “learning” about different cultures from the National Geographic and leave it at that. Your knowledge, however, will remain limited, incomplete and often misguided.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 11:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4379
Joined  2007-08-31
George - 08 August 2011 08:26 AM

Not if all I want to do is to use a computer.

Not just then. If you only have a physical description you are missing the essence of the computer: its capability to follow logical and mathematical instructions. And these logical and mathematical instructions are not material, even if they need a material substrate to exist.

George - 08 August 2011 08:26 AM

Or he needs no explanation at all. Equally, you are free to keep “learning” about different cultures from the National Geographic and leave it at that. Your knowledge, however, will remain limited, incomplete and often misguided.

Yes, I would learn a lot from National Geographic (as would you!), and yes, my knowledge would be limited: I would miss the point in what way the culture is implemented in its substrate, i.e. relationships of humans, in human brains, in nerve cells, molecules, atoms. But if you would not read National Geographic, your knowledge would be limited too: you would miss even the essence of it, like you would miss the essence of a computer program by studying electrons moving in silicon.

And that is the reason that so many reductionists come to such funny philosophies: that they deny the essences of higher order processes, just because they are implemented in another substrate. I see this again and again here, when people say that ethics, meaning, free will etc etc do not exist. To be a metaphysical reductionist does not necessarily mean that one denies that new attributes arise on higher levels of organisation. Don’t forget: evolution, genetics etc are higher order phenomena too! With the same argumentation as you did with National Geographic, I can say that your knowledge will remain limited, incomplete and often misguided as you do not see what lies behind evolution and genetics, namely chemistry and physics, or what lies above it, like science or culture.

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 August 2011 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9284
Joined  2006-08-29

GdB,

I don’t disagree with you that all levels are important. E. O. Wilson in his book Consilience explained very well the importance of the unification of sciences with the humanities and I personally see no other way. I don’t think we actually disagree here as much as we think.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 August 2011 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4379
Joined  2007-08-31
George - 09 August 2011 07:36 AM

I don’t disagree with you that all levels are important. E. O. Wilson in his book Consilience explained very well the importance of the unification of sciences with the humanities and I personally see no other way. I don’t think we actually disagree here as much as we think.

If you see it as two traffic between the ‘hard sciences’ and the humanities, yes, then we agree.

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 August 2011 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2291
Joined  2007-07-05

This is culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7jUJUa77kk

LOL  LOL  LOL 

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 August 2011 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5976
Joined  2009-02-26
psikeyhackr - 09 August 2011 11:03 AM

This is culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7jUJUa77kk

LOL  LOL  LOL 

psik

Precisely, I dare say that 80 % of behavior is copying other’s behavior. This is most obviously in group settings.

 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 August 2011 11:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4379
Joined  2007-08-31
Write4U - 09 August 2011 12:02 PM

Precisely, I dare say that 80 % of behavior is copying other’s behavior. This is most obviously in group settings.

One reason why the discipline of memetics has arisen. The idea of memetics is a kind of radicalisation of the ideas we are discussing here:

... if memes are not thoughts (and thus not cognitive phenomena), as Daniel C. Dennett insists in “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”, what, then, are they? What ontological status do they have? Do they, as memeticists (who are also reductionists) insist, in fact exist? And is the idea of “meme” itself a meme? If so, is it true?

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 August 2011 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5976
Joined  2009-02-26
GdB - 09 August 2011 11:27 PM
Write4U - 09 August 2011 12:02 PM

Precisely, I dare say that 80 % of behavior is copying other’s behavior. This is most obviously in group settings.

One reason why the discipline of memetics has arisen. The idea of memetics is a kind of radicalisation of the ideas we are discussing here:

... if memes are not thoughts (and thus not cognitive phenomena), as Daniel C. Dennett insists in “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”, what, then, are they? What ontological status do they have? Do they, as memeticists (who are also reductionists) insist, in fact exist? And is the idea of “meme” itself a meme? If so, is it true?

I am not sure if “ideas” and “belief systems” are applicable to basic survival behavior patterns. With most mammals, after birth, the parents immediately “bond” and begin teaching the newborn about “its” environment. A deer urges her fawn to get up and stand. A human baby learns to walk ( often with actual physical assistance) on two legs, but if brought up by dogs might well never learn to walk on two legs and thus remain a quadruped as it was at birth. A school of fish may swerve instantly in perfect unison. To me those are autoresponsive behaviors and not reliant on a specific belief system.

To me that is different than the more subtle definition of “meme” in a question of basic behavior patterns. This type of behavior is apparently hardwired in parts of the nervous sytem ( a fresh heart will beat for a considerably length of time independent of the brain) which act on environmentally induced conditions.

[ Edited: 10 August 2011 12:08 AM by Write4U ]
 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 2
2
 
‹‹ Is Morality Relative?      Epistemology ››